Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DNI: Dumb Name iPad

Ah yes, been a while, but I thought I would suckle on the sweet, sweet nectar of iDevice frenzy. “Wha?!?! That’s not BCI related!” you say. I know, but I’ve posted in the past about my search for the perfect ereader, my love of tablets, and general techno-fetishism. How could I not post?

Want the short version? Completely unimpressed.

Sure the, oh gawd, do I have to actually type this name…., grrr… Sure the iPad could never live up to the hype the preceded it, but really, the iPad barely lives up to the abilities of the Apple Newton. Really? Sure the iPad has fancy things like color and 3G, but but the Newton had handwriting recognition and a PCMCIA card slot. Otherwise, both rely on a specialty OSes unable to run full desktop apps, cost about the same, and have the same ridiculous bezel to screen ratio. Okay, enough with the kinda ridiculous comparison.

What’s the bright side of the iPad’s annoucement?

I’m actually excited about the iPad. Not the iPad itself, but the interesting apps it inspires. Remember how unspeakably crappy the smartphone market was before the iPhone? It was mind-numbing. If you approach the iPad from the ebook reader perspective, you can see where that market is going.

10 hours of battery life while watching movie. Yes, very nice. Whether this is still true after a month of burn in and OS patches, we’ll see. There are a few magic numbers for battery life: 3 hours – plane ride, movie plus other activities, usage during single ‘events’. 6 hours – leave the house for an outing and recharge when you get back, equal to all day for semi-infrequent daily use. 10 hours – effective all day use for always on, but sleep capable devices. 16 hours – all day use with regular-heavy usage. After that it’s a matter of days between each step. There are netbooks that have made the 10+ hour mark, but cheers to Apple for being there right from the get go.

Really, that’s about it for the pluses. Minuses?

If you approach the iPad from the netbook perspective, there are plenty of app launchers on Windows that do everything from simulate the OSX dock, the iPhone springboard, and about a million other crazy options. How much access Apple will give devs to the GUI is yet to be seen, but if the iPhone or OSX are any indication, you’ll be lucky if they allow you to change the clock’s font.

The worst, unApple-like thing about the iPad is the near total lack of inspiring features. Where are the revolutionary interaction techniques, the device-centric interface reimagining, and those little bits of the unexpected? iPod – the navigation/click wheel. iPhone – multitouch, accelerometer, proximity sensor. iPad – ? Did they run out of ideas? Just make it a big fucking iPhone. That’ll be good enough. Um, no.

For all the crap that Microsoft has taken for the early tablet PC implementations, the iPad is downright embarrassing in comparison. They just took Windows and slapped a pen in your hand. Hey, at least you got a pen…

Which brings me to that. A stylus. The iPad could have gained all the whiz-bang features of a… pad of paper. It could have been used for class note taking, composing messages, drawing/sketching, and so much more. Instead you get an awkward keyboard with no tactile feedback (not even an attempt to make a keyboard you could use while standing up?) and fingerpainting. Not sure if they figured out a way to make the touchscreen pressure sensitive, but if not, what a mess.

Other quibbles are mentioned in this excellent rundown on Gizmodo titled 8 things that suck about the iPad. Enjoy your dongles, iKids. I’ll be over doing something exotic, like running TWO apps at once, swapping out a battery, opening an actual file, or placing an icon on the bottom of the screen before there are 20 above it. Put that on your SD card and… oh, no expandable memory slot. Right.